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Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal has compared the MAGA riot to the evolution of Al-Qaeda saying in both instances people followed a ‘powerful leader’ who ‘justified their violence’, as he warned America is headed for a homegrown insurgency.
McChrystal, the former commander of American troops in Afghanistan, said there are terrifying parallels between the birth of the terrorist group responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks and the violent siege on the US Capitol last week that left five dead and sent shockwaves around the world.
Donald Trump has given his supporters ‘legitimacy to become even more radical’, he told Yahoo News, with his Stop the Steal rhetoric now a radical rallying cry similar to the Lost Cause adopted by the Southerners in the American Civil War.
McChrystal, who was fired by President Barack Obama after he made disparaging remarks about him and then-Vice President Joe Biden, warned that now ‘the fabric of something very dangerous has been woven’, the consequences will continue long after Trump leaves office.
His comments come as the nation is still reeling from the January 6 attack on the seat of American democracy and security is being ramped up ahead of President-elect Biden’s inauguration.
As more arrests of mob members are made and new details of the siege continue to emerge, it has become increasingly clear that among the rioters were members of several extremist groups including white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Proud Boys.
Retired Army General Stanley McChrystal has compared the MAGA riot to the evolution of Al-Qaeda saying in both instances people followed a ‘powerful leader’ who ‘justified their violence’, as he warned America is headed for a homegrown insurgency
McChrystal led the army’s fight against the the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
He said the recent events on the US soil are drawing concerning reminders of the rise of the terrorist group.
Back then, people with ‘very poor prospects’ followed Osama Bin Laden ‘who promised to take them back in time to a better place’, he said.
For the last four years, Trump has taken on that role with a radical group of American citizens.
On January 6, he riled up the crowds at a DC rally telling them to march to the Capitol and ‘to fight’, moments before the mob broke into the building to stop the Electoral College votes being counted.
‘I did see a similar dynamic in the evolution of al-Qaida in Iraq, where a whole generation of angry Arab youth with very poor prospects followed a powerful leader who promised to take them back in time to a better place, and he led them to embrace an ideology that justified their violence,’ McChrystal told Yahoo News.
‘This is now happening in America.’
McChrystal also drew comparisons to another dark time in American history.
‘President Trump has updated Lost Cause with his ‘Stop the Steal’ narrative that they lost because of a stolen election, and that is the only thing holding these people down and stopping them from assuming their rightful place in society,’ McChrystal said.
The Lost Cause myth came out of the Confederate states at the end of the Civil War as they tried to rewrite the narrative after losing.
Donald Trump has given his supporters ‘legitimacy to become even more radical’, he told Yahoo News, with his Stop the Steal rhetoric now a radical rallying cry similar to the Lost Cause adopted by the Confederates in the American Civil War. Pictured a rioter carries a Confederate flag through the Capitol
The violent siege on the US Capitol left five dead and sent shockwaves around the world
Trump supporters storming the Capitol on January 6 during the violent siege
Trump supporters storming the Capitol last week in a riot that left five dead
They falsely claimed the war was caused by secession and what they said was a noble pursuit to protect the country – not about slavery, which they still believed was just and moral.
Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly sought to rewrite his legitimate 2020 presidential election loss by pushing unfounded claims of mass voter fraud – claims that his avid fans have latched onto.
‘That gives them legitimacy to become even more radical,’ McChrystal told Yahoo News.
He warned that the problem is already much deeper than people realize: ‘I think we’re much further along in this radicalization process, and facing a much deeper problem as a country, than most Americans realize.’
And the radicalization which has already taken deep roots in the US will not simply disappear when Trump does, McChrystal warned.
Federal authorities are still rounding up perpetrators of last week’s riot and have vowed to come down heavily on those involved.
When this happens, McChrystal said, extremists tend to go quiet and regroup and will likely become ‘more professional’.
‘As this extremist movement comes under increasing pressure from law enforcement in the coming days and weeks, its members will likely retreat into tighter and tighter cells for security, and that will make them more professional, and those cells will become echo chambers that incubate even more radical thinking along the lines of armed insurrection,’ he said.
Trump told his supporters to ‘fight’ moments before he stormed the Capitol
Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation, also compared the January 6 mob to the devastation caused by Al-Qaeda. Pictured Osama Bin Laden
‘So even if Trump exits the scene, the radical movement he helped create has its own momentum and cohesion now, and they may find they don’t need Trump anymore.’
Another ‘charismatic leader’ will step up and fill the gap left by Trump, McChrystal added.
‘They can just wait for another charismatic leader to appear,’ he said.
‘So the fabric of something very dangerous has been woven, and it’s further along than most Americans care to admit.’
McChrystal was the head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq during the 2000s and the commander of all US and allied troops fighting the terrorist organization in Afghanistan.
In 2006, he was credited with leading the airstrike that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
But in 2010 he was fired from his role as the commander of multinational forces in Afghanistan by Obama after a Rolling Stone article revealed he made disparaging remarks about the president and senior administration figures.
In the article, McChrystal said it was ‘painful’ to watch Obama’s slow approval of the deployment of thousands more US soldiers to Afghanistan.
An aide to the army boss also said McChrystal had been ‘disappointed’ after he had a meeting with Obama who ‘didn’t seem very engaged’.
McChrystal also pretended not to know Biden who was Obama’s Vice-President at the time while an aide mocked Biden’s use of the phrase ‘bite me.’
McChrystal was promptly fired. But despite their speckled past, the retired general said he was endorsing Biden in the lead-up to the 2020 election.
McChrystal was fired by President Barack Obama after he made disparaging remarks about him and then-Vice President Joe Biden. McChrystal and Obama in 2009
McChrystal (right in 2009) warned that now ‘the fabric of something very dangerous has been woven’, the consequences will continue long after Trump leaves office
‘They didn’t see everything the way I did. But in every instance, they listened. In every instance, they took in my view,’ he said of Biden and Obama in an MCSNBC interview in October.
‘In every instance, I felt that they were trying to make the best decision based on all the information they had, and based on a bedrock of values.’
In 2018, McChrystal described Trump’s behavior toward the military as ‘deeply disturbing’ and said ‘the size of the defense budget is not a measure of patriotism or connection with those in service’.
‘I don’t think that President Trump has developed as deep – a real connection of trust – with the military as perhaps he thinks he has,’ he said.
McChrystal’s warnings of escalating extremism on US soil were echoed by other counterterrorism experts who fear that all the signs of growing violent extremist movements are there to see.
Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation, also compared the January 6 mob to the devastation caused by Al-Qaeda, saying both are the result of extremists mobilizing behind one common view.
McChrystal, the former commander of American troops in Afghanistan, said there are terrifying parallels between the birth of the terrorist group responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks and the violent siege on the US Capitol last week. Pictured Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front fighters
‘Osama bin Laden’s major contribution to the terrorist pantheon was to create a mythology around the narrative that a band of Arab fighters defeated the Soviet superpower in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and he used that mythology to bring together a lot of disparate terrorist groups from all over the world under the single banner of al-Qaida, giving them cohesion and an organizational structure,’ he told Yahoo News.
‘Similarly, the people behind January 6, 2021, mobilized right-wing extremists of every stripe – white supremacists, neo-Nazis, QAnon, anti-Semites, antigovernment militias, xenophobes, anti-feminists – and brought them together as a movement in what amounted to a Woodstock festival for extremists.
‘And now the ‘Battle of Capitol Hill’ has become symbolically important and central to right-wing mythology, and it will lead to more organizing and escalating threats from this movement, which we’re already seeing.’
Symbols for right-wing fanatic groups the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters were spotted among the mob on January 6.
Others rioters spewed the QAnon conspiracy theory – the debunked extreme right wing theory that claims Satan-worshipping pedophiles are plotting against Donald Trump and are running a global child sex trafficking ring – and one rioter was seen wearing a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweater.
Proud Boys making the okay sign, now regarded as a white supremist symbol, and holding Trump 2020 and the Gadsden flags just before the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday
A rioter wears a ‘Camp Auschwitz’ sweater inside the Capitol building as it was stormed by pro-Trump rioters
Experts told Yahoo extremist terrorist movements start with lots of small similarly-minded groups like this before they join together over time to form a larger group.
As the group gains ground, the leaders often make themselves known to fuel the recruitment of more followers.
It is common for extremist movements to recruit from law enforcement and the military communities – something Islamic State did in recruiting Baathist military officers, reported Yahoo.
Several former military members took part in the violent riot on the state Capitol last week.
Ashli Babbit, the woman who was shot dead while she tried to climb through a window into the congressional chambers served 14 years in the Air Force.
Meanwhile, Larry Rendall Brock Jr., 53, who was seen dressed in combat gear and carrying zip ties in the Senate is a retired lieutenant colonel who was in the Air Force for more than two decades.
The US Army is said to be investigating 25 people including active-duty members thought to have participated in the mob.
As security intensifies in Washington, the Secret Service, who is in charge of all inauguration security, has released its restricted access plan, which includes what the agency is calling a ‘Green Zone’ in the heart of DC
In extraordinary scenes out of the capital, razor has been installed on anti-climb fences surrounding federal buildings in DC
Experts said extremist groups then often join with similar organizations operating in other countries.
Ali Soufan, a former FBI supervisory special agent and counterterrorism expert, said Thursday that some of the white supremacist groups at the Capitol riot had ties to overseas groups including the Nordic Front, a neo-Nazi group in the Nordics.
The growth of the extremism reached a tipping point last week when the rhetoric turned into violent action, experts said.
A Baghdad-style ‘Green Zone’ perimeter has been set up and more than 20,000 armed National Guard troops have been mobilized.
The Secret Service released its restricted access plan, which includes what the agency is calling a ‘Green Zone’ in the heart of DC.
The term ‘Green Zone’ was the same name given to the heavily-fortified area in Baghdad during the Iraq War.
Most of downtown DC is now off-limits to traffic and has already drawn comparisons to Baghdad’s high-security zone.
In extraordinary scenes out of the capital, thousands of armed military members are patrolling the streets and anti-climb steel fences and road blocks continue to be installed in the wake of last week’s deadly siege.